Since 1982, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program (BRSP) has sought not only to recognize schools whose students have excelled regardless of background or circumstances; but to identify effective practices and share those findings as part of a national school improvement strategy.
The BRSP recognizes elementary and secondary schools that are both academically superior and have demonstrated dramatic gains in student achievement, while serving an economically disadvantaged population of students. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program is part of a larger U.S. Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about the best school leadership and teaching practices.
Each year the U.S. Department of Education outlines the categories for nomination and establishes eligibility criteria. In 2012 there are two categories: Exemplary High Performing Schools and Exemplary Improving Schools.